Berlin

Soviet Soviet Guides ACUD in Introspection on 31.05

The Italian post-punk trio, Soviet Soviet, headlined ACUD last Wednesday night in support of their latest album, Endless.

I watched a man in the audience stare out the window for twenty minutes. Soon after, I realized how perfect Soviet Soviet is for introspection. The three-piece created the perfect atmosphere for thinking about it all. I imagined the thick layers of sound filling in every corner of the barely-lit room while casual goths slowly nodded their head. The night moved slowly, even when the rhythm was fast-paced and insisting.

Andrea Giometti (bass and vocals) created his own chaos in the corner of the stage, throwing his bass around as the speed and sound increased. Alessandro Costantini (guitar) and Alessandro Ferri (drums) were often closing their eyes, joining everyone else in their own head.

One thing that sets Soviet Soviet apart from other modern post-punk bands are the vocals. Giometti’s pitch somehow fit in just right with the darker tones of the genre and it was executed perfectly in a live setting.

Random Chatter called Endless, “a musical journey that is completely built on hope”, and I walked away from the venue feeling just that, despite the current state of the world.

 

Colette is a freelance writer based in Berlin. She likes Turkish psych rock, wandering, data sculptures, and white sauce.  For more Colette, visit here

The Dirt
Homeshake takes over Lido on 28.05

The appeal for Homeshake seems obvious, especially on a blazing spring evening in Berlin. Lido was packed with swaying floral button ups, sun-dazed expressions and an eagerness to hear the Montreal-based headliner. Aldous RH opened and said hello to the crowd by mentioning how their 9 hour drive was worth it. Berlin seemed to agree when we submitted to the frontman’s request for everyone to take a seat together. The pairing was ideal: the band mixes bedroom pop with 90’s R&B in a way that somehow still sounds fresh.

 

Peter Sagar, the man behind Homeshake, wore sunglasses and maintained a nonchalant stage presence for the entire set. The four musicians worked their way through crowd pleasers, building up hype within an already excited room. Three songs before it would all end Sagar mentioned,

“We’re going away for a year.”

Here’s to hoping the absence will be to work on a fourth album. We’re all ready for more R&B-soaked stoner synth days.

 

Homeshake came through Berlin in large part due to Puschen. Be sure to check their other shows coming up this summer…

NOTS @ Urban Spree on 12.06

Froth @ Badehaus on 12.06

WHY? @ Festsaal Kreuzberg on 20.06

Peaking Lights @ Kantine am Berghain on 12.07

of Montreal @ Festsaal Kreuzberg on 20.07

The Men @ Kantine am Berghain on 03.08

Chastity Belt @ Kantine am Berghain on 17.09

 

Colette is a freelance writer based in Berlin. She likes Turkish psych rock, wandering, data sculptures, and white sauce.  For more Colette, visit here

The Dirt
Humanz

Humanz, the first studio album we’re seeing from virtual band Gorillaz in seven years is chalk full of guest spots. The bigger names include Grace Jones, Zebra Katz, Popcaan, Vince Staples, Pusha T and Danny Brown. With a roster like this, one would expect another huge album like Demon Days. Alas, Humanz falls a touch flat compared to other records in the Gorillaz universe. An especially disappointing moment comes with the entrance of Grace Jones (who is normally an absolute goddess) to album. She laughs maniacally over choppy guitars saying “I am the ghost”. What are you the ghost of Frau Jones? Disco past?

There are, of course, beautiful little pools of creative genius in Humanz that we have to cherish if our faith in Gorillaz is to remain in tact. Popcaan brings that same Jamaican feel to ‘Saturnz Barz’ that we fell in love with on Jamie xx’s 2015 summer banger ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’. Another gem can be found in the melancholy croons and the atmospheric synths of ‘Busted and Blue’.

At the end of the day Humanz is still a Gorillaz record. They’ve always given us gloomy yet danceable albums to throw on during good times, hard times and end times. And we’ll always love them for that.

The virtual outlaws 2-D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel Hobbs will be rocking through Berlin on November 11th at Max-Schmeling-Halle. No matter what era Gorillaz fan you are, you know it’s going to be a feel good time.

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Schmutz Guide to XJazz Festival 2017

Here we go again, it’s XJazz time!!

Kicking off next week, from May 3rd to the 7th, XJazz is a unique festival when put in the context of the Berlin live music landscape. One of the main goals of XJazz is to blur and break the boundaries of jazz, experimental electronic, neo-classical and other genres to give Berlin something not always witnessed. XJazz is also a multi-venue, multi-day event, taking place in some of the most iconic venues in the city including Funkhaus Berlin, Emmauskirche, Bi Nuu, Lido, Prince Charles, Privatclub, Monarch and Watergate. No other Berlin music festival offers such an eclectic roster of artists, performing in such unique spaces. The Schmutz team is especially keen to see the performances at the historical Funkhaus and Emmauskirche.

Every year XJazz Festival has an international partner that forms the backbone of the booking and performances taking place. This year XJazz has announced Poland as their partner. The two countries have always had a passionate cultural exchange, inside the musical arena and out. For this year’s festival, XJazz has organized an exchange of artists to come to Berlin and collaborate with local musicians. This special line-up includes The Berlin x Warsaw Ensemble collaboration, Stargaze featuring Käptn Peng & Malikah and Wallis Bird performing together with Berlin musicians. What Schmutz has got for you jazz cats is a little guide to XJazz 2017 with our favorite shows and recommended listening for good measure with a playlist. Dig it, ya jive turkeys!


The festival starts out with a bang in what is probably the most unique event space of the festival, Emmauskirche. The collaboration of Cyminology & Korhan Erel will be the act to christen the church on behalf of the festival. This collab is comprised of the Berlin quartette Cyminology and the sound architect Korhan Erel, and will be serving up minimalistic improvisations and compositions starting at 18:00. Following Cyminology & Korhan Erel we get the pleasure of the Berlin based composer Martyn Heyne in Emmauskirche. With his one guitar, drum machine, pedals and loops, Heyne builds variations on a theme until you forget where you started but can’t wait to arrive where you’re going. The third act of the evening is Dillon. With her engaging vocals and experimental take on pop music, she’ll fill Emmauskirche to the rafters with emotion. To round out this whopper of an opening night we’ve got the drones and jazz saxophone of Rain Sultanov & Isfar Sarabski. This performance is especially not to be missed if you’re interested in the cultural development of Azerbaijan. Sultanov has been an integral part of the jazz scene in Azerbaijan and that history can be felt when listening to his compositions. Rolf Kühn will also be playing a show at 19:45 at Watergate on the 4th. The legendary German clarinetist will be opening Watergate for the night but have no fear, if you miss him tonight he’ll be playing with his brother at Funkhaus on Sunday the 7th.

Friday, May 5th:
Schmutz will be doing a bit of venue hopping to catch the shows we’re feeling. Our first stop is the XBerg classic, Lido. Our buds in Liima will be gushing their world and jazz informed versions of pop and indie. They kick off at 21:15 sharp, giving us enough time to catch them and then hustle back over to Emmauskirche to catch Federico Albanese at 01:00 (technically on Saturday morning, but this is Berlin…). Albanese’s works are akin to the great modern minimalist composers, think Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Federico Albanese’s performance will reach for and fill every nook and cranny of Emmauskirche.

Saturday May, 6th:
Third day’s a charm! With the evening of Saturday the 6th, we see more Schmutz buddies rolling through XJazz Festival. Opening the night in Emmauskirche we’ve got the Portland, Oregon virtuoso Peter Broderick. Broderick is hot off the heels of his two 2016 releases, Partners and Grunewald (check out our album review for Partners here). The latter was recorded in just one night just outside of Berlin in the Grunewald Church. His work on this mini-album is minimal while at the same time creating a growing sense of corners to be explored, begging the listener to listen to the record over and over. Our next recommendation is right around the corner at Privatclub with Chat Noir. They’ll be taking the stage at 21:30. Chat Noir have been around the block and have expanded their sound over the years to include electronics and sequencers, producing what we’ll see at Privatclub, their doomed out jazz feels.

Sunday, May 7th:
For the closing night of XJazz Festival 2017, they have certainly saved some of the best for last. All of the shows tonight will take place at Berlin’s now legendary GRD Radio Headquarters turned venue and recording studio, Funkhaus Berlin. Opening the closer, we have Rolf and Joachim Kühn, two brothers that have been shaping and reshaping the idea of jazz for decades. They’re not often seen round these parts, so best to get out to Funkhaus for this 17:00 show early. Though there are the wonderful acts of Jacob Collier and Matthew Halsall & Dwight Trible making up the meat of this jazz sandwich, Schmutz is brimming with excitement for the closer of the entire festival Pantha du Prince. His takes influence from all over the musical map: jazz (obviously), classical, hip-hop, ambient, noise, etc. His closing set, sure to turn dance party, will be one for the books.

Check out the official XJazz website here for full listings and tickets for all the excellent gigs for their 2017 festival!
The Dirt
Contact

With her third studio album Margaret Chardiet, a.k.a. Pharmakon, holds nothing back physically or electronically. Her new album Contact expresses a bizarre truth held between the pure physicality of Chardiet’s voice (screams, cries, yells, whispers) that achieves relatable abrasiveness and the harsh angles and atmospheres she breathes into her electronic soundscapes. The aptly named Contact is the meeting ground of two differently created worlds that are fighting to get to the same point.

Chardiet has always featured herself on the covers of her albums with literal visual translations of the album titles and philosophies. Contact is no different. Before you put the record on, you have an idea of what you’ll be getting yourself into. A sea of hands that might have a combination of sweat, saliva and tears on them grope Chardiet’s face as she takes a finger into her mouth out of self defense or curiosity.

As with her last two albums, Abandon and Beastial Burden, Chardiet has released the latest Pharmakon LP on a Schmutz favorite, New York’s Sacred Bones Records. Pharmakon will be bringing her sounds to Berlin on the 22nd of April, 2017 to the intimate venue Ausland.

Check out the extremely physical music video for the album’s fifth track, Somatic, below:

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Damage and Joy

19 years after their last full length effort, The Jesus and Mary Chain have come back at us with Damage and Joy. Although not the perfect 10s that are Stoned and Dethroned and PsychocandyDamage and Joy still has the swagger that made us fall in l-u-v with early The Jesus and Mary Chain. The new album, out on ADA and Warner Music Group, delivers the amphetamine highs of Psychocandy and the hazed out lows of Stoned and Dethroned. The new album even brings similar vocal pairings of earlier albums to the table on the songs “Song for a Secret” and “The Two of Us” with former Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell.

Although not at their peak, The Jesus and Mary Chain are certainly still worth checking out live, we can vouch. Seeing them a few years ago in Seattle is still one of the better shows of the last years. They’ll be supporting Damage and Joy with a lengthy tour and will be stopping at Huxley’s Neue Welt in Berlin on April 24th.

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Show Recap: Wolf City Presents Blood Incantation

Sometimes the metals become so mighty, the death so real, that the skin sprouts fur and the claws come out. When you hit werewolf-grade seven, your voice is raw, shrieking along as your fist pounds the air; when you hit eight, you’ve made it to dawn; when you hit nine, you’ve probably thrown up the defenseless deer you consumed and kept going. Don’t ask about ten. Aptly-named Wolf City brings the best metal to Berlin for those special nights when the werewolf needs to come out, and lordy was Saturday a proper banger.

Local stalwarts Carnal Tomb opened the evening with the appropriately grim motions, and by the time they left the stage Urban Spree was packed, tipsy, and ready for Killtown Booking’s fairly unbelievable package to hit the stage. Up next was the UK’s Cruciamentum, who released one of the most solid and satisfying death metal albums of recent years with Charnel Passages (2015).

With riffs for miles, ranging from chugging brutality to soaring fireballs, set to life by blistering solos and top-notch drumming, they annihilated the place and set the crowd well on its way into lycanthropic fervor. Blood Incantation followed with much anticipation; their debut LP Starspawn blew the scene away completely in 2016, with its progressive and cosmic—yet entirely catchy and crushingly heavy—concoction.

Although inspired chiefly (to these ears) by late Death, early Suffocation, and Steve Tucker-era Morbid Angel, Blood Incantation achieves its own, distinctive sound and delivers the whole package live, and leaving this werewolf howling all the way to Monday.

Huge thanks to Wolf City for supplying tickets for our raffle when the show was sold out. Legends.

Gottlieb Brenner is a Berlin-based Schmutz contributor. He enjoys kabusecha, gin, and believes “Superunknown” was the best album of the ’90s.

The Dirt
March Playlist

Everyone on this playlist is playing in Berlin this month. Listen. Go to their shows. Be merry.

The Dirt
Chalice Hymnal

The members of Grails have been around the block, both with Grails and with other projects (Om, Lilacs & Champagne, Holy Sons), and bring that solid foundation to the table when recording their new album Chalice Hymnal. On this, their seventh proper LP, you feel that the Portland, OR group has been around the world, seeing things through smoke blurred lenses while listening to everything from Bollywood and porn soundtracks from the 60s and 70s to hip hop and classical scores. A record that can suite any current mood or can be used to transport you where you want to go.

The new album, out on Temporary Residence, will be backed by a European tour in March with Grails hitting Berlin on March 19th at Musik & Frieden with Majeure.

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No Home of the Mind

On his first album for 4AD, Bing & Ruth mastermind, David Moore moves forward with his minimal compositions on No Home of the Mind. On first listen it would not be hard to comfortably place No Home of the Mind in the genres of classical or piano music and leave it there. But after several sittings with the album you start to pick out drones that you hadn’t noticed before, or the processed tapes that might seem more akin to Grouper than Philip Glass.

When Bing & Ruth played Acud Macht Neu last year the setting was perfect: intimate venue, small crowd, pillows on the floor, the tone was set. As the musicians on the stage drifted forward with their set, all eyes were on Moore, leaving the crowd with the notion that he was incomplete control of the compositions without having to give anything away, this is how No Home of the Mind feels.

Bing & Ruth will be playing the Grüner Salon on May 21st.

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Max Richter Releases New Video For Modular Astronomy

Earlier this year, German-born British composer Max Richter released his score for the narrative dance piece entitled Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works on Deutsche Grammophon. The pieces were initially scored to accompany the choreography of Wayne McGregor that are based on three of Virginia Woolf’s novels (Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves), but after seeing him perform and speak about these pieces earlier this year in Berlin, it was made clear that Richter penned these not only with the choreography in mind but also telling the stories Virginia Woolf did through his music using the lenses of time and memory.

Richter has released a new video to accompany the piece ‘Modular Astronomy’ that was scored for Woolf’s Orlando. The video was directed by Mark Nunneley at the Babelsberg Studios outside of Berlin and features time-lapse cloud formations and vast cloudscapes in black and white.

We were among the lucky attendees at Säälchen when Richter performed last month. If you weren’t so fortunate, check out the video below and pray to the ambient gods that he plays Berlin again soon.

 

The Dirt
Slow Forever

We’re approaching a year since this was released, but Schmutz didn’t exist then and this is an album we really wanted to talk about. A long hiatus coupled with a lineup change usually proves fatal to a band, but Cobalt proves to be an exception on its latest record, Slow Forever, which is at least a return to form, if not their strongest release of all. The departure of the band’s founder and former vocalist Phil McSorley following a fairly epic social-media meltdown did not bode well, until news arrived of his replacement by the appropriately monstrous Charlie Fell (ex-Lord Mantis). Multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder handles the rest with panache, all the way through nearly 84 minutes of material spread across twelve tracks, with zero filler. The overall approach and sound harkens back less to 2009’s Gin than 2007’s Eater of Birds, a hearty heavy metal stew that did not shrink from milking a good riff for a few extra bars or paring back the blast beats to lend a more dynamic structure than your usual black metal record. In other words, Slow Forever is a headbanger whose stylistic debts range all across the world of extreme metal, but has its own distinctive grooves—and it does groove, recalling Tool more than Marduk—and savage ambitions. Despite Cobalt’s earlier successes, 2016 is a much kinder year for such an album than 2007 or 2008 would have been, and so it is no accident that many consider Slow Forever amongst 2016’s best—if not the best—metal release. They are right. Hail Cobalt redivivus!

 

Gottlieb Brenner is a Berlin-based Schmutz contributor. He enjoys kabusecha, gin, and believes “Superunknown” was the best album of the ’90s.

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Who is Schmutz?

Who?

Who’s asking? Who are any of us, really? I have yet to see substantiated evidence that you aren’t all figments of my reality simulation. Or we could all be some sort of Westworld-esque, sexy robots, teetering on the brink of self-awareness, insanity, and an inevitable murder spree. All that aside, music is our life (Lives? Musics are our lives..?). Music is really important to us. We have other things going on, but at the core of it all, music is what keeps it all together. You know when the looming awareness of your existential insignificance starts to creep in? Music helps us tune all that nonsense out.

Two native daughters of Cascadia.

What?

Live music of all kinds, as long as it’s good. If it’s happening in this city, we want you to know about it. We indiscriminately love black metal, rnb, pop, powerviolence, etc.

Why?

The trigger point for this site was the regular occurrence of walking by a flyer on the street for an amazing band, only to see that the date for the show had past.  If we had a euro for every time this happened to us, we could finally afford to start paying our Deutschland Radio bills. Perhaps more importantly, we consider this a sort of civic duty for the city we love.

Where?

We’re right behind you. Shhhhhh.

Liebe Gruße,

GAD, NKP

The Dirt
Life Will See You Now

The brilliant pop lyricist from Sweden, Jens Lekman, is back with his first album in five years, Life Will See You Now. As always, Lekman is unreasonably witty while never fully letting you wash the bitter taste of melancholy out of your mouth. With the first (rather tropical feeling) single from the album, “What’s That Perfume You Wear?”, Lekman recalls the scent of a former lover, whom he guesses he still loves.

Although this is Lekman’s first studio album since 2012 (out on Secretly Canadian), he has been busy. In 2015 Lekman wrote and produced one song per week for the entire year, the series is entitled “Postcards“.

Jens will be playing at Silent Green on April 18th, 2017.

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Ty Segall

With his second self-titled album, Ty Segall doesn’t stray from his glam-garage formula, something we can all be pleased about. Ty has always had an affinity for bringing two of the best 70s sub-genres to the fore of his music, but with his first release of 2017 he proves that his love for Marc Bolan and Sabbath might be getting closer to perfection.

With the help of the likes of Steve Albini and Mikal Cronin, Ty gives us his ninth studio album and his sixth for Drag City. Segall is playing Berlin’s Astra Kulturhaus on August 24th, 2017.

Fun facts: this album was released on my 28th birthday and Ty Segall will be playing Berlin on my mother’s 58th birthday. Alles gute mutti, Ty and I love you.

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You Know What It’s Like

On her solo album debut, You Know What It’s Like, Berlin resident Carla dal Forno occupies a curious space between minimal pop and experimental electronics. Each song builds on itself while building on the song before it, lending an eerie yet familiar haze to an album that seems to have been recorded to listen to while walking alone on a crisp Berlin night in autumn. As if challenging its listeners, one of the album’s first singles is cuttingly titled ‘What You Gonna Do Now?’, beckoning its audience to occupy a (head)space dal Forno has created for us.

You Know What It’s Like is out on one of Schmutz’s most beloved labels, Blackest Ever Black, formerly holding court in both Berlin and London, but recently moving all operations to London.

 

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The Synarchy of Molten Bones

In the greater scheme of things, the formula for metal can be relatively restrictive. This is evident in the ambiguous subgenre tags given to any band that challenges the standard confines. Not to say that “Atmospheric avant-garde black metal” isn’t an apt description of Deathspell Omega, but it probably comes across as gibberish to normal folk. 

The Synarchy of Molten Bones should make a lot of veteran DO listeners happy. While in some ways it picks up where Paracletus left off, you can also detect a nod to the visceral fury that came through on 2007’s FAS.  Their composition style might be characterized by how chaotic it sounds at first listen; an overwhelming assault of time changes in an sea of tritones. But those with time and a tolerance for dissonance are rewarded with the catchiest of microgrooves and melodies, which are made even more infectious with the power of contrast. For fans of Gorguts, Nietzche, and getting lost in a forest on mushrooms. 

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